Bodega Bistro: French Vietnamese in the Tenderloin
607 Larkin St.
(between Eddy St & Willow St)
I usually just associated San Francisco’s strip of Little Saigon (Larkin Street near Hastings Law School) as the place to go for dirt cheap and delicious banh mi (Vietnamese sandwiches). The Sunset was for actual Vietnamese restaurants, and those were usually Chinese/Vietnamese BBQ hybrids, or so I thought.
One of the women who works at the high ROI mani/pedi shop in the Marina known as Marina Nails told me to check out Bodega. Apparently Bodega is a play on a Vietnamese phrase – each syllable sounds like a Vietnamese word. (Which one, I don’t know, and would love to be told.) Not only did it have good pho, she said, but I should try out another traditional dish that was sort of like a Vietnamese version of a make-your-own burrito order.
Let’s just say, she knew what she was talking about. Purple-colored walls, vinyl seats, and a waiter with a bad blond job all added to the experience of delicious beef pho, hot and crisy imperial rolls, fresh veggie plates, and a tasty seafood and noodle dish. The make-your-own burrito dish gives you fresh green or red lettuce leaves instead of tortillas, and you fill the leaf up with some beef or chicken, rice noodles, mint and basil leaves, and a sweet vinegar sauce. Healthy portions and fresh ingredients at a mid-range grub price mean that your usually non-bargain- hunting friends would find this a pleasant “slumming it” experience for them to brag about.
Parking was pretty decent for a 7pm dinner time on a weeknight. Park a little too far and you may feel a little safer with a companion. (No thugs, but a decent amount of delirious people randomly walking in a Woodstock flight pattern along the sidewalk, muttering to themselves or each other.)